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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've suffered with anorexia for many many years. And was in recovery for the past 3 years. I became a vegan (finally!) in January. Sadly, unknown to me at the time I started to slip into a relapse a few months after the switch to being vegan.

I strongly believe the two are NOT linked. And I became a vegan as I was sure that what I had cut out of my diet I would replace with an alternative. This is true, I do replace.

I know the trigger and it isn't veganism.

The reason I am making this post is that I am struggling a lot.
I will be hungry and craving food and annoyingly the food I want is cruel, harmful and death related. I saw a guy eating an egg sandwich and I drooled. I like the taste of egg but I DO NOT WANT IT. It is cruel and not ethical.
I crave chicken too. And instantly my mind pops up a picture of the chickens I helped to look after at the sanctuary and I get annoyed at myself for wanting it.

I tell myself it is just an old thought process that stems back from my pre vegan days. Habitual thoughts I guess.

But it us hard to cope with. I am scared that I will give in and eat something that I will end up beating myself up over.

I have foods I can eat, within the limits of my anorexia. But the desire for cruelty based foods is bullying my mind.

I do not want to ever eat animals or their by products ever again, it makes me feel ill to think about it.


Help!
 

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Hi Kelpie,

I suspect you are still restricting quite a bit and may be malnourished? I say this because I too have suffered with anorexia for a number of years (both as an omnivore and as a vegan) and when my weight was low and I was restricting hard core for a long time I had the same cravings. Not too often but on occasion I would get a strange craving for eggs, something I was not overly fond of as an omnivore so it was all the more strange. I didn't have the meat cravings, but the egg ones were very troubling. I never have those kinds of cravings now, having put on over 22 lbs since then and eating so much better, though I am far from completely over my eating disorder and do restrict to a mild extent. I ate very "healthy" as far as food choices when I was deep into my disorder and included a variety, but no matter how healthy you think you are eating, if it isn't enough, the body will go to great lengths to fight to survive, and the cravings are part of that. It is weird because you might not even feel hunger having had the ability to ignore and shut off hunger as part of your disorder, but it still comes out in odd ways, including psychological thought patterns. Hormones such as insulin, gherlin, and others are often very unbalanced and they can send out strong signals which often means weird cravings. It's not really so much that your body thinks it needs something only an animal food can provide, since plants can provide almost everything animal foods can. We are conditioned in our culture to think meat and eggs are so healthy and provide iron, omega 3s, protein etc and it is often deeply ingrained in us unless we were born and raised vegetarian. So it wouldn't be so unusual to have those kinds of cravings and worries if one were malnourished.

Also, I didn't think I was malnourished even when I was mildly underweight. I still exercised, lifted weights, worked and went to school and pulled off straight As. I ate "maintanence". All my blood tests were good. What really got to me was when I had my fourth DEXA scan in 2014 (I already had osteoporosis diagnosed in 2006 via my first DEXA scan after losing my ovaries at a young age) and my bone density had decreased alarmingly fast from my last DEXA in 2010. It is one of those silent damaging effects anorexia has on a person that you don't even realize until you break a bone. I had the same thing happen in 2008 during my first ED treatment program when I had to have mandatory tests and my EKG and other similar studies revealed a damaged heart muscle and severe sinus bradycardia even though I felt fine.

I think the strange cravings and thoughts will subside as you heal and get better. I suspect many other anorexics who are also vegan have had these thoughts/cravings. You have restricted and denied yourself food you wanted for so long that you begin to crave anything and everything, but especially foods that are off limits to you even if they are foods you would never eat for whatever reason.

Do you allow yourself to eat vegan treats now and then? How about stuff like veggie meat products or vegan cheeses? I used to avoid these and try to be as whole food vegan as I could, but when putting on weight and trying to recover, I started to incorporate them from time to time and be more open minded and willing to try different vegan foods that I wasn't always comfortable having around before. It was and is a strategy so I don't feel so deprived and so that I don't play the mind games with myself that I can't have this or that. I still have some fear foods that I am afraid of triggering a binge with such as vegan mayo or tahini. I have been practicing allowing myself a little bit of those things each day so as not to feel deprived and start thinking about them all the time and obsessing over them. It is difficult for someone who has not struggled with the psychological patterns that anorexia creates to understand. The more control you exert over food and body, the more out of control you become as far as the psycological aspects...obsessing about foods that might be off limits to you and so on. Intrusive thoughts about foods you perceive you "can't" have. I don't know how to explain it clearly. I just KNOW.

Also as part of my recovery, I started doing more animal rights volunteering and getting involved in groups such as Vegan Outreach. I did some leafleting and tabling and so on and it helped me take the focus off of food and body and feelings of helplessness. It also helped me reaffirm my commitment and reasons for being vegan which can become obscured in the face of a relapse into ED.

We do have an ED thread around here if you need to talk somewhere safe about it. It is here:
http://www.veggieboards.com/forum/3...ive-vii-eating-disorder-recovery-support.html

I'm not going to lecture you or pressure you about where you are in your eating disorder or blame that for your thoughts because I understand how hard it is to overcome ED and I have been labeled irresponsible and everything else when I struggled both as an omnivore and vegan with an eating disorder. I hope that you have someone to work with who is helping you and that you find the strength to pull through this relapse. It might help to explore the relationship that being vegan has with your ED. Not saying you became vegan as a diet or form of control. Not saying that at all. But I have had to come to terms with the fact myself that veganism HAS played a role in my ED even if I became vegan in a period of recovery and for ethical reasons and am still very committed to it as an ethical vegan. Any time an anorexic, whether in recovery or not, excludes foods from the diet, it is a trigger potential, even if you happily exclude them for all the right reasons. It is a challenge that we face and must learn to deal with, and often it means we have to be far more flexible with our diet as vegans than others might be, so that we are not triggered into the control mindset. It is much harder than it might seem, even when we are passionate animal rights advocates and vegans. Flexibility doesn't only mean food choices, but how much we eat, when, where etc. It's a tough battle and you are not alone!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Wow, thank you so much for your reply. It really made sense. I will read it again and in bits so I can take it in better.

I do have vegan 'treats' I love Vbite sausages and other meat alternatives. It is what I have with the that makes the whole intake restrictive. My calorie intake is low and what you says makes sense, that my body is just wanting foods and it is foods I would have turned to in the past.

I want to get my mind to crave other things... marinated tofu would be a good start! But other easy to go to foods.
 

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the best advice i can offer is to get a good regular routine. I am currently trying to recovering from bulimia (again), it's not the same as anorexia but i can still relate quite well. I have a meal plan that i create myself each week and it has 3 meals and 2/3 snacks. I even plan what time i have all these meals and tick them off as i go throughout the day. I don't always enjoy having to eat it all, but i just see it as my medicine - and just see it as a good thing for my body. It is tricky, but you can do it :) If i ever feel like my bulimia habits are kicking in, i have a "happy" box in my room filled with good distractions and positivity. I've filled it with things like letters/notes from loved ones, vegan chocolate, craft kits, Mr Happy storybook, bath bombs and nice smellys ect. it has actually really helped.

Also, it can be a good idea to write down little steps you can take to recovery, for example, one for me was to try a food i'd never had before, or go out for dinner with friends. I've not quite managed the dinner one yet, but feel that i could probably be ready to do that next month. Nevertheless, it will happen one day! :)

One last thing that might be worth thinking about though, veganism has taught me to love myself, as i am an animal and to hate myself or hurt myself would be in a way animal cruelty. Veganism made me realise that i have no choice but to love myself and take care of my body. This realisation was a life changing moment for me, and it's made recovery for this time very different.

I wish you the best of luck with everything, and i think it's pretty brave that you've been honest with how your anorexia has been. Feel free to message me anytime! :)
 

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it sounds like your ED still has quite a hold on you OP. And remember our bodies arent rocket scientists, pregnant women who are deficient in Iron can develop strong cravings for ice, dirt, and metal.

I am a healthy weight, and I have had killer cravings for deep fried fish (like fish sticks...) and i found the cure to that particular craving was a nice salty greasy bag of Lay's classic potato chips.

Not all the food I eat has to healthful, or within a narrow range of calories.

Good luck to you OP, I hope you are getting treatment for your eating disorder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have recently started treatment. It is hard as I don't want to have to explain my veganism to them and the fear I have is that they will think it is an ED behaviour.

I also have a happy box, which I should open up more often!

I am currently doing a food diary and when I see my keyworker week we will do a meal plan, hopefully this will help widen my nutrients a bit more as I am stuck on the same foods right now :/

I guess the hard work has begun, again.
 
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